In it's true definition, indie music is any music that is produced by unsigned or non major label artists.
Today indie music most commonly refers to a genre of music that is heavily influenced by electronic, folk, and rock music. A good and what is probably the best known artist for this genre is Beck.
However the vast majority of indie music today is shit. The main components to an indie band are:
-A singer and a guitarist or a singer/guitarist
-A bass player, preferably a white male or an Asian female
-A guy on a synthesizer
-A drummer who only does 4/4 beats (I got that from another urban dictionary post)
-Some weird, obscure, or just plain obnoxious instrument
In the many horrible "indie music" bands, the musicians barely know how to play their instruments. The guitarist probably only knows the basic kumbayah chords (A, G, E, C, etc.) and power chords.
The synthesizer player will often times only alternate between the same 3 chords throughout the entire song and tune the synth oscillators to a setting that s/he finds the most unique- no matter how horrible it sounds.
And lastly, whatever weird instrument that they have, they will absolutely 100% not know how to play it.
Next are the lyrics which are dreadful. Anyone can write typical indie music lyrics in five seconds. They are usually about a girl with brunnette hair and her surrounding environment.
The brown hair covers your eyes
And I see the ocean behind those eyes
You're like a flower in a vintage store
Unique like me- no establishment whore (its also important in indie music to talk down on companies, establishment, etc.)
and then there is usually about 15 seconds of the singer going
Nah, nah, nah, nah, yea, yea, yea, etc.
All of this is 100% true. Go listen to indie music and don't tell me that at least 80-90 percent of what I've said isn't in the music.
joe-"hey man I just found this acoustic guitar and an old drumset in my basement. Let's start a band"
will-"shouldn't we learn to play the instruments first? I mean we don't want to embarrass ourselves"
joe-"Nah it's all good, we'll just say we're playing indie music"
will-"Oh yeah! because it's the effort and our message of brown haired girls and anti-government feelings that count!"